The Pittsburgh Steelers have been widely, and rightly, regarded as a family organization, a reputation that has only grown over the past couple of decades as franchise ownership has increasingly fallen into the hands of business entrepreneurs rather than those who are actually in the business of football. The legacy of the Rooney family is the cornerstone, the foundation from which everything the organization does is enlightened.
But the whole familial theme took a turn for the literal yesterday when the Steelers united two brothers on the football field, even if it was in a move that was not altogether shocking by any means. Pittsburgh signed to the practice squad second-year running back Karlos Williams, who is the younger sibling of linebacker Vince Williams, in his fourth season since originally being drafted by the team in 2013.
The move was not shocking for a number of reasons, not the least of which would obviously be the blood relation with one of their locker room stalwarts in Vince. But the Steelers have had a history of expressing interest in Karlos already.
The team brought with them a heavy presence to his Florida State Pro Day leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft. Of course, the Seminoles pumped out any number of prospects that year, and in previous and proceeding years, to justify a large contingent, but the team has also been in the market for running back depth as well.
Karlos was drafted by the Bills in the fifth round of the draft that year, with the 155th overall pick, two spots ahead of where the Steelers were drafting that year. Perhaps it was never determined formally one way or another if he was on their draft board, but it would seem to be a reasonable assumption—especially in light of the fact that they signed him now.
The younger Williams had a very successful rookie season that year, rushing for 517 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards per carry, and adding two receiving touchdowns on 11 receptions, as a depth player who was called into part-time starting duty.
But he had a tumultuous offseason that included being handed a four-game suspension for violating the substance abuse policy, and he also showed up to training camp overweight. This piling on of incidents contributed to his release, and the Steelers worked him out at that time.
Now that his suspension is over, Pittsburgh made the move to bring him in on the practice squad, where he will be under the watchful eye of his elder brother, who has turned himself into a bit of a club leader, even if he lacks the designation of full-time starter.
Perhaps there are no immediate long-term plans for Karlos in Pittsburgh, but it is foreseeable that there could be a future for him here, and that he will eventually ascend from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, even if that happens next year. We may be getting ahead of ourselves with that, but paint me an optimist on that front. He young man will find it difficult to fail here with big brother watching over him.
Then again, the Patriots just released Glenn Gronkowski, so you never know.